Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has denied any wrongdoing after becoming the latest public figure to been named in the Panama Papers data leak. He is listed as the former director of a company in the British Virgin Islands, which was managed by the Panamanian law firm Mossack Fonseca in the early 1990's in the hopes of developing a A$20bn (£10bn, $14bn) gold mine prospect in Siberia called Sukhoi Log.
The details of Turnbull's involvement are included in the documents obtained from Mossack Fonseca by the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ). However, the data is not available on the ICIJ's searchable online database that recently went live to the public.
Turnbull became a board member of the Star Mining NL in October 1993 and just over a month later he and former New South Wales premier Neville Wran were appointed directors to Star Mining's subsidiary firm — Star Technology Systems Limited — in the British Virgin Islands. Evidence gleaned from the documents obtained from Mossack Fonseca reveal that the law firm acted as a registered agent of Star Technology Systems when Turnbull presided as the director of the company, the Australian Financial Review reported.
When asked about his involvement with the company, Turnbull said: "The company concerned was a wholly owned subsidiary of a publicly listed Australian company. So an ASX-listed company of which Neville Wran and I were both directors for about two years." He added that there was "no suggestion of any impropriety whatsoever", the Guardian reported.
Star Technology System's name was changed in 1992; it was previously known as Green Applied Systems — a company that Mossack Fonseca incorporated for mining entrepreneur Ian McNee. However, the firm's name was changed after McNee entered into negotiations with Russian politicians for a 34.88% share in LenaGold, the joint venture for the Sukhoi Log gold prospect.
A spokesperson for Turnbull said that the prime minister was not aware of the role Mossack Fonseca played as a registered agent for the company. He also said Turnbull was unaware of any payments made to any politicians or political parties by the company, prior to or during the time he served as director of Star. Turnbull, who is a former tech entrepreneur and investment banker, is currently campaigning ahead of the Australian general elections to be held on 2 July.
Note: All of those implicated in the ICIJ Panama Papers report have been afforded the opportunity to respond: Visit the ICIJ website to read the responses.